Aside from being generally incredible for mood and energy support, B vitamins are hugely beneficial for women with PCOS because of their ability to help with metabolic dysfunction, inflammation, and liver detoxification. However, most women with PCOS are lacking in B vitamins, among other nutrients, and therefore may want to consider upping their intake. So let’s break down the 3 big ways that B vitamins can help manage your PCOS and talk about our favorite B complex supplement.

Reduce Insulin Resistance and Homocysteine Levels

Recent research reveals that there’s an undeniable correlation between homocysteine levels and insulin resistance in women with PCOS. If you’re unfamiliar with homocysteine, it’s a product that is formed by your body’s breakdown of the amino acid methionine. In low levels, it’s perfectly healthy and normal but when homocysteine creeps up too high, it is associated with cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and PCOS. This is because insulin blocks an enzyme called cystathionine beta synthase in your liver that is in charge of homocysteine metabolism, thus increasing the levels of homocysteine in your blood (1, 2). Folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 all play major roles in regulating homocysteine. One study found that insulin resistance and increased homocysteine levels were tied to low amounts of B12 in women with PCOS. Another study experimented with giving women with PCOS folic acid for a three month period and saw a reduction in homocysteine levels across the board (3). 

On another note, a significant population of women with PCOS are on metformin, a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions. We know that metformin causes deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid while also increasing homocysteine levels, which can be a problematic combination because we really want the exact opposite (higher B vitamins and lower homocysteine) (4). So taking B vitamins can be supportive for women with PCOS who are on metformin but want to keep their homocysteine levels in check to avoid long term complications like cardiovascular disorders. 

Lower Your Histamine Response and Inflammation

When your body is lacking B vitamins, often histamine (a chemical involved in allergic reactions) can’t be broken down properly. B6 in particular is a critical cofactor in the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme that metabolizes histamine (5). With too much histamine in your system over a period of time, you can eventually become histamine intolerant. Now this is important to know because researchers are starting to connect the dots between histamine intolerance and inflammatory conditions like PCOS. Let’s briefly take a look at why. 

Women with PCOS usually have low levels of progesterone and high levels of estrogen. And progesterone is not only vital for healthy reproductive functions (ovulation, pregnancy, etc) but it also helps out the DAO enzyme in breaking down histamine. So without adequate progesterone, histamine can get out of control and snowball into histamine intolerance. Simultaneously, estrogen can actually cause an uptick in the production of histamine in your ovarian and uterine mast cells. With excess estrogen, your mast cells pump out even more histamine, leading to a continuous cycle of too much estrogen and histamine – a perfect segue into the next topic!

Support Phase I/II Liver Detoxification

If it seems like we’re always talking about liver, that’s because we are. Supporting your liver is one of the MOST important things that you can do for your overall health, but more importantly, your hormone health. After all, your liver has the invaluable job of detoxifying waste products and hormones so that they aren’t recirculated and reabsorbed in your bloodstream. With all of the endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens in our society, estrogen is one of those hormones that tends to build up in women’s bodies. And, as we mentioned above, estrogen is a major culprit of histamine intolerance and the subsequent inflammation that comes along with it. 

Have you heard of the term methylation? It’s a buzzword these days (often in reference to the MTHFR gene) but also a super important thing to know about in regard to detoxification. Simply put, methylation is a critical biochemical process that controls your liver’s ability to detox. Methylation is required for healthy detoxification and is utterly dependent on the B vitamins. During phase I of liver detox, fat soluble compounds get broken down by cytochrome P450 enzymes into intermediates that later move on to phase II. This class of enzymes is enhanced by B vitamins. Then in phase II, methylation comes into play by breaking down the substances from phase I using methylfolate, a form of folic acid or vitamin B9. So if you’re deficient in folate or other B vitamins, your methylation will be sluggish and you may get a backup of waste products that can’t fully be detoxified by your liver pathways. Not to mention, B vitamins are also required to make glutathione, the master antioxidant! Glutathione is absolutely essential for both protecting your cells against oxidative damage and supporting both phase I and II liver detox. 

B Vitamins in The Cysters Kit

If you’re looking to improve your insulin resistance, quiet your histamine response, and support your liver detoxification pathways, a vitamin B complex is the way to go. That’s why we were sure to include B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacinamide), Folate, B12 (Cobalamin), B6 (Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate), B5 (Pantothenate) and B3 (Niacin) in our new formula, Ovarian Guard. This is one of two targeted formulas in our complete daily protocol for women with PCOS. If you’re like us, taking a bunch of single supplements (like all those Bs!) can feel really cumbersome and hard to manage, so we compiled all of the necessities into a couple daily pills for you.

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